The Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) today released a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Chukchi Sea Oil and Gas Lease Sale 193.The final SEIS addresses concerns raised by the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska and incorporates additional public comment, and includes a new analysis of the environmental impacts of a hypothetical Very Large Oil Spill (VLOS) scenario. Oceana is displeased with the agency’s decision to downplay the very large, very important science gaps identified by the recent U.S. Geological Survey’s June 2011 report.
“BOEMRE can not keep using the USGS report as window dressing. Gaps were identified and many of which need to be filled before the Administration can make an informed decision,” stated Dr. Chris Krenz, Arctic Project Manager for Oceana. “It seems that every day we learn how little we know about the Arctic, record low ice, new walrus behavior, new fish stocks, and yet BOEMRE and DOI keep putting the sled before the dogs.”
In preparing the Final SEIS, BOEMRE’s analysis included a review of the 2011 June USGS, “An Evaluation of the Science Needs to Inform Decisions on Outer Continental Shelf Energy Development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, Alaska. The report’s recommendations are an essential guide for BOEMRE’s ongoing efforts to learn more about the Arctic environment.
“The laundry list of unavoidable impacts to America’s Arctic as part of the approval process for drilling in the remote Chukchi Sea reads like a farewell speech to this fragile ecosystem and the vibrant cultures that have inhabited it for millennia,” stated Susan Murray, Oceana Senior Pacific Director. BOEMRE states that approval of Chukchi Sea development will harm subsistence activities, air and water quality, threatened and endangered species, sociocultural systems, wetlands, and a multitude of mammal, bird and fish species.
The USGS reports states “the rapidly emerging science about the Arctic makes it "difficult, if not impossible" to know how to weigh the relative importance of that science in Arctic decision-making” (pg220). The vibrancy and biodiversity of the Arctic ecosystem depend on how we manage economic development. Oceana will continue to work towards ensuring that development will not harm ecosystem health or the subsistence way of life.